Roland Fischer-Vousden



On some nights there’s a throng of people, especially if it’s a Friday or a Saturday, or if there’s a band on. On others there’s one person drinking and the bartender doesn’t even bother with music, and you can hear the soft movement of the door against the frame, as the odd car or bus goes by, blowing air into the alcove where the pub is set back from the road. On most nights though, there’ll be at least one of the regulars, perched up on a stool or several of them in a group around a table. Tonight, Lynn is sitting, side-on at the bar, straight backed, the elbow of her black satin shirt resting on the wood, glass of wine in hand, the other arm free to gesticulate as she speaks:
—I lived in Ibiza, it was the place to be then. I was there with Andy. He picked me up in Liverpool of course. I’d never been to places like that before.
At the other end of the bar near the wall are a group of lads, talking mainly amongst themselves, working the drinks of the early part of the evening. The one nearest to her, amused, says:
—Like what?
—The nightclubs. I’d been out in Liverpool, but not places with people like that, everyone was so beautiful and no one held back, y’know?
She pauses, turns towards them raising both eyebrows.
—And, of course, there’s all the other stuff I’d not experienced.
—Christ, leave it out Lynn.
—We don’t wanna hear bout you pilled-up in Ibiza alright?
He raises his voice and turns his head towards the group, and the lads laugh.
—Oh we didn’t know about any pills back then. Or at least I didn’t. But it was the first time I’d taken cocaine.
—Fucking hell. Here we go.
This elicits further laughter, and they shake their heads, one whispers into another’s ear, he sniggers. Lynn sits on the stool.
—We had the best time there.
One shouts:
—Imagine Lynn in Privilege.
And again they are creasing into their drinks.
—What’s Privilege?
—It’s the biggest fucking club there, Lynn. How’d you not know that?
—Well, it was different then.
—Oh yeah?
—I’ve seen videos of San Antonio now, I know what it’s like. And I’ve heard the music they play. There were people there back then, but there most certainly weren’t any of your lot.
This causes an uproar of laughter, men slapping each other’s shoulders. One flicks a peanut past her head, which lands near the door to the toilets. Another shouts:
—Did you hear that? Who was there then Lynn? Some posh cunt and a bunch of slags from Liverpool?
But Lynn only smiles:
—It was the young and the glamorous. If that’s something you can understand?
With this she swigs from her wine and the group erupts into fresh consternation. She rolls herself a cigarette, puts a beer mat on the top of her glass and goes outside. When she returns to her place the lads are shouting at one another, each speaking louder than the last, the next already attempting to break in. Lynn sits and drains the last of her wine, the ice cubes, still whole, rattle against the glass.
After some time, when there is a lull in conversation, a couple of lads having gone to the toilets or outside, the one nearest her, says:
—Go on then Lynn. Tell us more bout Ibiza.
She clears her throat and wets her lips:
—It was magical then y’know. It was all about music, but it was filled with love. Love and mutual respect. And I tell you something, it’s the only place I ever fitted in: I was thin as a beanpole.
—You’re thin as a beanpole now, Lynn.
—And I was tall, always had good clothes, even when Andy found me. Going there, it changed everything. The weather was always good, always sunny, and if you wanted rock music, there were bands, but then it was also the beginning of disco. But it was proper disco. We just went dancing every night and all night.
—I’ve seen you here on a Friday night, Lynn, don’t doubt you were dancing all night.
She watches two of the men going to the toilets together, nods over at them:
—And everyone did that out in the open. It wasn’t the dirty little thing you and your friends do now.
—You trying to scam a line off us Lynn?
There are only two left at the bar with Lynn and the bartender. The second lad joins in:
—Don’t worry about it, come to the loo, have a key of mine.
He stands up and adjusts his belt buckle and the other snorts into his drink. When they are back from the toilets, she and the man on her right are still speaking, and she has become glassy-eyed, rolling the cubes of ice, and looking at the bartender frequently. She says the parties were long and wild and more glamorous than anything they have ever seen. And they say they’ve already heard that, but she continues:
—In the 70s and early 80s Ibiza attracted A-class people, do you know that? Above all of you.
—Yeah, yeah, you said. And how long did this Andy bloke put up with you as his missus then?
—Oh, we were never an exclusive couple. It wasn’t like that then.
The bartender rubs vigorously at a glass he has taken from the glasswasher.
—Fucking hell. So there were a load of you?
—We both had different partners if that’s what you mean.
—Oh yeah how many did you have then?
At this she smiles, stretches out her fingers as if to examine the length of her painted nails:
—Oh, I wouldn’t like to say.
—Were you fit then Lynn, when you were young?
—Course she was.
—Nah, she was either a stunner or just fucking easy.
—I dunno she’s got pretty low standards now.
She interrupts:
—What do you mean by that?
—Well Eric’s not exactly a looker is he?
—Yeah Eric. You and him not together?
—But you’re always in ere? And living on the boats and that?
No. He’s my neighbour.
The bartender jolts the drawer of glasses into the glasswasher, suddenly joins in:
—Does Eric know that?
—Well, I assume he—
—Because you might wanna let him know, Lynn, the amount he talks bout you.
A frown passes over her. She looks at her glass, then picks it up and drinks. Eventually she says:
—I think Eric knows that we are friends.
The bartender shakes his head, puts his hands to the stubble on his scalp, but then says:
—So, you didn’t wanna just be with this Andy bloke forever?
—Um, what a strange thing to ask. I was very young. In a way so was he.
The other men break back in:
—Course she didn’t, mate. In Ibiza? What would you be doing?
He reddens, says:
—I dunno.
—You not seen the sort of talent you get in Ibiza?
—Yeah, alright, whatever.
—Fuck off.
One of the lads, shaking his head, looks at his phone, says they should leave if they want to get the last train to his, and they very quickly down the rest of their drinks and file out, the one nearest Lynn touching her shoulder and wishing her a good rest of her night. When they are gone she continues to speak about Andy and the white sands of the beaches, as the bartender stares past her towards the door and sips on a pint methodically.
He says he will possibly close up early, it being just the two of them but she does not respond, then taps her glass when it is empty. Eventually he locks the doors from the inside, brings the ashtrays out for the two of them. He asks her why she ended up in London, if she loved Ibiza so much. And she answers:
—Well, when me and Andy stopped, I was there for a bit, but I guess there was not much else to do. I knew everyone through him, you see.
When, eventually, he persuades her to leave, she licks her lips and leans across the bar to say goodbye. He turns his cheek towards her, which is where her pouting lips land. He has some difficulty guiding her out, she cleaves to his hand as she goes.


Roland Fischer-Vousden lives and works in London. He is the co-founder and a director of the arts organisation SET. He is close to finishing a novel about the pub and characters featuring in this story.

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